By Brandi McGrath Kong, Director of Member Services & Conferences
Sertoma is a team, and when I say that, I don’t just mean a single group of volunteers assigned to work on a committee or project. I mean that your entire club is a team, and even bigger than that, all Sertomans throughout North America are united as a single team dedicated to Service to Mankind.
Empowering the team can be an especially difficult challenge for many leaders used to controlling everything. However, a volunteer leader’s job is not to rule with an iron fist; instead, they should be focused on helping the team achieve the club’s strategic goals by working with, not against, those serving on their project or work group. We can do this by:
- Defining the expectation
- Trusting your team
- Equipping them with resources
- Managing without micromanaging
Leaders must lay out the goals of all volunteer work and help their team understand how the work fits into the club’s bigger picture. The charge should be clear, manageable and realistic. Once they have communicated these expected outcomes, it is paramount that they trust their team to get them there. Volunteers are the ones in the field getting the work done, so they often have the best grasp on what is working and what should change. Ultimately, leaders need to let the team do what they’ve been asked to do without questioning and overstepping at every turn.
The board will also need to provide resources – whether that is access to information, recruiting additional manpower or putting some money behind it – to make the work feasible. Don’t set your team up to fail; make sure they have what they need to be successful.
I hope that you will take this knowledge into your next volunteer experience, whether you are serving as part of the team or as its leader. It’s amazing what teams can do when given the opportunity to work together, and the service and generosity of our Sertomans have been seen throughout the U.S. and Canada since 1912.
Empowerment is just one of the topics explored in our Building Your Sertoma Team leadership development session available on-demand in the Sertoma Training Library.